Connecticut newlyweds deploying in opposite directions

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HARTFORD -- At a formal send-off ceremony for two Connecticut National Guard units deploying soon, a state flag was presented to members to fly at their international bases.

Two soldiers, however, are leaving with a different reminder of home: their wedding rings. Lt. Nichole Pellerin and Lt. Justin Giunto got married in October, but in about a week they'll be worlds apart on different missions.

"Of course being both military, we knew that it was possible," said Pellerin, though she said she was surprised because she and her husband serve in different units and as of the beginning of this year, he was not scheduled to go overseas.

Pellerin knew she was heading to Cuba for about a year, but Giunto's deployment to Afghanistan was not announced until a little over a month ago.

Military leaders say they are normally notified of a mission 12 -18 months in advance.

"It's a lot. We've been busy trying to pack everything up," said Giunto of the scramble.

The 55 members in Pellerin's unit will work in Guantanamo Bay.

"Think of it like a correctional facility within the state. We're going to go down and oversee everybody is conducting themselves appropriately and make sure there's a safe, humane environment for detainees, staff and the public," said Master Sgt. Edmund Scarchilli.

Giunto's Operating Enduring Freedom crew of about 35 will provide command, control and administrative support on a base in Afghanistan.

"Operating the billeting, to overseeing the fire department to working with the security forces to ensure that base is safe," said Col. John T. Wiltse of their tasks.

The upcoming time apart sunk in for families at the deployment ceremony, though Pellerin and Giunto aren't dwelling on it. "Just try to get as much time in as we can together," said Giunto.

Pellerin added, "We know that it's just a year in the long term, so we have our whole lives together."

The Connecticut National Guard expects to deploy more than 250 soldiers in the next 15 months for missions around the world.